TED Conversations

Christina Nesheva

GlaxoSmithKline plc


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What is the future of healthcare? How can it become health care vs sickness treatment? What role do technology and innovation play?

Healthcare costs are rising, the population is aging and medical needs are greater than ever. How can patients receive better quality care at an affordable price? How can we leverage technology to provide better and more affordable healthcare around the world?


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  • Oct 19 2011: I'm currently working as an EMT in Washington and one of my duties is to transport patients in an ambulance, who are incapable of sitting upright, to routine appointments such as dialysis, surgeries and check-ups etc. Usually this means patients with amputations, bone or muscle diseases, obese patients, elderly patients etc and as a result I spend a lot of time going in and out of nursing homes. I am saddened by the general lack of compassion for the patients. I also know that it is very difficult for the nurses, aids and therapists to spend a lot of "quality time" with each of the patients considering that often there are only one or two nurses for every 50+ patients. I would like to see more patient advocates and volunteers in the facilities to spend time socializing with patients and to make long term, live-in healthcare a more enjoyable or at least a less depressing experience. I think that good health"care" involves caring and compassion.
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      Oct 19 2011: I don't know if we will ever get to a world where compassionate people work in position where compassion is required the most. It is a sad reality we're not there today. But many things you described will rapidly change with modern technologies. Inexpensive exo-skeletons for disabled and elderly, which enable walking. New biologic treatments for weight control, labs/tests done by a portable device or a mobile phone even, where no appointment would be necessary, or routine visits for a chat with doctor, which can happen online, without having to be there. There's hope that most people will be less disabled by their "disabilities".
      • Oct 19 2011: Dear Sir,
        Come to my work for a day and you will see compassionate people who work in positions where compassion is most needed. Or follow Doctors without Borders, or go to a free medical clinic for the homeless, or any of the thousands of organizations that work for small pay or no pay to compensate for a broken medical/healthcare delivery system. Modern technologies ,which I use in my work everyday, are a mere adjunct to compassionate people who are also experts in there field.
      • Oct 20 2011: It is encouraging to see your comments. All of the issues of insurance, medications and prevention have little to do with the reality of the vulnerability of illness. At some point everyone will be ill, and will then be dependent on the health care providers. It is only then that the basic patient/care giver relationship comes into play. Each and every one of us will be counting on the care and compassion, empathy and respect to get us through every phase of recovery. Kindness costs no more than rudeness. Mutual respect and trust are the elements of the healing partnership. A health care model of patient and family centered care can actually reduce costs, speed healing and in the end, promote a better health standard.
    • Oct 20 2011: In terms of providing support, I try to categorize into two: those that require skills from high intensive training and those that require little skill.

      The first category obviously falls onto the shoulder of the providers and compassionate providers can give a much better experience for the patient and in turn will make the session much more enjoyable to the provider as well. When compassion is felt and appreciated, the patient will express the thanks in much more sincere way and we are tuned to acknowledge such appreciation. Compassion goes both ways.

      The second category - by properly labeling them and identify them can lessen the burden of the professional providers if and only if the society is willing to accept that some family members must be involved and the cost of a dedicated family member (the lost opportunity of making money for those needy families) should be somehow compensated through public support. The cost of family support outweighs the cost of professional support by factors and hence it is worthwhile for the whole society to consider a more "socialistic" solution to a crisis plagued by under funding.

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